A basic cycle repeats itself over and over in the book of Judges. Time and time again God’s people go through this heartrending process, and it seems as if they do not have the ability to look back and learn from their past. This cycle (pictured below) follows this basic pattern:
It begins with a time of peace. Things are going great, the people are seeking God, they have a thankful spirit, there is peace in the land. Then comes a season of complacency. The people get used to the good things God has given them and as their hearts grow cold and complacent, their eyes begin to wander away from the one true God and toward idols and false gods.
With time, they begin to compromise, and sin enters in. They begin to practice immorality, idolatry, and all the same sins as the people who live in the lands around them. Their sin then leads to pain. Most often the people of Israel experienced pain when the nations around them invaded, attacked, and conquered their land. This oppression lasts for years until the people finally cry out to God for help. They say, “God, save us, help us, get us out of this situation.”
Then God sends a judge to deliver the people and raises up a leader to help the people fight off their oppressors. Their victory leads to a time of peace, and the cycle begins all over again. Generation after generation falls into the same pattern.
The cycle we see repeated over and over in the book of Judges can also become a pattern in our lives. Spiritual entropy enters our lives when our desires and impulses rather than the Holy Spirit of God begin to rule us. We grow weaker when we are driven by our whims. We can intercept this form of spiritual entropy when we look to the Holy Spirit of God to grant us the strength we need to overcome sinful desires and impulses.
The apostle Paul wrote: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15). Every Christian faces the reality that we will battle the temptation and enticement of sin for the rest of our lives. The issue is not whether we will face sinful impulses; the real question is how we will respond to them.
Abraham Fuller, a 10th century theologian, had this to say:
“Sin is to be overcome, not so much by direct opposition to it as by cultivating opposite principles. Would you kill the weeds in your garden, plant it with good seed; if the ground be well occupied, there will be less need of the hoe.”
When it comes to breaking the cycle of spiritual entropy, the only time to start “planting good seed” is now!